Olympics: Tokyo 2020 unveils US$30m sustainable athletes village plaza

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Athletes Village Plaza, which was made from 40,000 pieces of timber, is pictured at its unveiling on Jan 29, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - When the world's top athletes meet in Tokyo for the Summer Olympics in July, they will be spending some of their downtime in a communal space built mostly out of reusable timber.

The organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Games on Wednesday (Jan 29) unveiled the athletes village plaza, which was made from 40,000 pieces of timber donated by 63 Japanese municipal governments.

After the Games, the 2.4 billion yen (US$30 million) building will be dismantled and the timber returned to the donating municipalities for re-use in local facilities. Each donated piece is marked with the name of the area that provided the wood.

"The main feature (of Tokyo 2020) is that plenty of timber is used, not only in this village plaza, but also in other venues," Tokyo 2020 venues sustainability manager Nariki Makihara told Reuters.

The plaza will host the official welcome ceremonies of all the national Olympic committees. It will also provide a social hub for athletes during the Games, featuring a general store and cafe.

The wooden structure, which draws on Japanese minimalist design aesthetics, follows the Tokyo 2020 theme of using timber in the construction of Olympics venues, including the National Stadium.

Tokyo's Olympics organisers also aim to offset all carbon emissions generated during the Games, which begin on July 24 and end on Aug 9.

Environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have previously accused Tokyo 2020 organisers of failing to end the use of timber associated with rainforest destruction and human rights abuses. Organisers dispute those claims.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.